Learn to Ride the Ready to Drink Wave

Let’s be real: You aren’t going to transport your entire bar cart to the beach or a neighborhood barbecue. In the outdoor bustle of summer, convenience reigns supreme, and that makes ready-to-drink cocktails ideal. Toss one into your tote bag before a picnic, or keep some chilled for when you’re short on time but want a mixed drink.

We’ll be the first to tell you that nothing can top a handmade cocktail, but in a pinch, these ready-to-drink options satisfy a variety of needs. Stay versatile this summer and add one or several of these packaged cocktails to your repertoire.

Make a Splash with one of these Whiskey RTDs

Cold Hamer Highball
7% ABV, $13/4-355 ml cans

West Fork Whiskey Co. cans two drinks—this Highball and a Snapback (7% ABV) made with ginger and lime. Both cocktails use the distillery’s Old Hamer bourbon. We like the Highball, made with all-natural lemon and soda water, as an alternative to wildly popular hard seltzers. It’s refreshing at a low 130 calories, with zero added sugar. Available in Ind., Ill., Tenn., Mo., with expansion planned, and ships to 31 states.

Crown Royal Washington Apple
7% ABV, $15/4-355 ml cans

Fresh for summer 2021, Crown Royal just released three new canned drinks: Whisky and Cola (7% ABV), Peach Tea (7% ABV), and this Washington Apple cocktail. Made with Crown Royal Canadian whisky, apple, cranberry, other natural flavors, and vegetable juice, Washington Apple has a purplish hue and is perfect for the transition from summer to fall. Available nationally.

DRNXMYTH Bourbon Sour
16% ABV, $11/200 ml bottle

Created by Los Angeles bartender Jason F. Yu, this Sour is made with MGP high-rye bourbon, fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice, cane sugar, and blackstrap bitters. The real difference with DRNXMYTH is the innovative packaging, which holds ingredients in separate compartments. Twist the bottom chamber to mix spirit with juice and shake before serving. Given the use of natural citrus, it’s recommended that you keep these chilled. Each bottle serves two cocktails. Ships to 32 states.

High West Barrel-Finished Manhattan
37% ABV, $28/375 ml bottle

It’s hard to capture the magic of a hand-stirred Manhattan, but High West comes pretty close with this bottled cocktail. Made with a blend of straight bourbon and straight rye from MGP, sweet vermouth, and a few dashes of aromatic bitters, the drink is then aged for 3 months in a used rye barrel. The bottle serves about six cocktails, and should be refrigerated after opening. High West also offers a Barrel-Finished Old Fashioned (43% ABV). Both cocktails are also available in 750 ml bottles. Available nationally.

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey & Cola
7% ABV, $13/4-355 ml cans

It’s a version of Jack and Coke in a can. (Note: It’s technically “cola” but that’s not what you call it, right?) Jack Daniel released a series of canned drinks in June 2020, including this, a Whiskey Seltzer (5% ABV), and a Honey Lemonade (7% ABV), and they’re all pretty good. But for universal appeal, the cola is the one you want. There’s some caffeine here, so best to keep these for the tailgate, poker night, or other endurance activity. Available in 14 states with national expansion planned.

LiveWire Golden God
7.5% ABV, $20/4-355 ml cans

LiveWire Golden God comes from Los Angeles mixologist Aaron Polsky and blends 2 year old straight MGP rye with brandy, apricot, green tea, and elderflower. The drink is light and sweet, perfect for sipping by the pool. LiveWire offers a variety of drinks made with different spirits, all created by trusted professionals. Available in Calif., Texas, N.J., N.Y., ships to all 50 states.

On the Rocks Old Fashioned
35% ABV, $12/375 ml bottle

For when one cocktail isn’t quite enough, On The Rocks lets you return to the well or serve up a whole round with its range of drinks. This bottled Old Fashioned is a mix of Knob Creek straight bourbon, bitters, and natural flavors. Pour some over ice, as the name suggests, and see if your guests can tell it came from a bottle. Available nationally.

Siponey Café
5% ABV, $20/4-355 ml cans

Siponey was co-founded by cocktail veteran Amanda Victoria, with a goal to offer a drink that is good for imbibers and the planet; a portion of the profits are donated to honeybee preservation. It offers two products: Siponey Royale (7.25% ABV) and Café, both of which include 4 year old New York Distilling Co. rye whiskey, wildflower honey, lemon juice, and sparkling water. The Café also mixes in locally made cold brew coffee, making it a good aperitif. Available in Calif., Conn., Fla., Mass., N.J., N.Y. and ships nationwide.

Social Hour Whiskey Mule
10.5% ABV, $20/4-250 ml cans

From New York bartending legends Julie Reiner and Tom Macy of Clover Club fame, Social Hour keeps its drinks and ingredients simple. The Whiskey Mule combines a blend of 3 to 6 year old Ragtime Rye, made at New York Distilling Co., with citrus-forward ginger beer. Garnish recommendations include a lime wedge, orange peel, or mint sprigs, but this is just as tasty straight from the can. Available in N.Y. and N.J., with expansion planned, and ships to 38 states.

Tip Top Proper Old Fashioned
37% ABV, $35/8-100 ml cans

Compact and potent, Tip Top is the closest approximation to a strong and sturdy cocktail, straight from a can. They offer two whiskey options: a Manhattan (31% ABV) and this Old Fashioned, which is made with MGP bourbon, orange bitters, and cane sugar. Serve it neat or over ice, and at 37% ABV, you don’t have to be concerned about dilution. Available in Ga., Fla., S.C., Texas, Calif., New York with expansion planned, ships to 46 states.

More From Cocktails

a cocktail with a pepper and lemon garnish
a cocktail with a pepper and lemon garnish

Rye on Fire [Cocktail Recipe]

This rye-based cocktail starts off citrusy but finishes on a spicy note, thanks to the addition of chile liqueur and habanero shrub.